Cat Pee Conqueror


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20170717_065458It is finished.  It smells finished.  It looks finished.  After much soaking, scrubbing, and blotting this cat pee conquistador is victorious.  The last step was to apply baking soda over the entire area, then a hydrogen peroxide + dishwashing soap mixture over the baking soda.  I scrubbed the foaming concoction into the carpet with a brush, waited a few minutes as it soaked in, then blotted it up.  I knew it was doing it’s job as the fluid in the towel began to come up clear, not yellow.  Crossing my fingers, I left for a few hours ride, came home to the scent of NOTHING.  When the carpet dried, the carpet was shampooed with cold water (hot water had been a bad thing earlier).  The water in the machine’s waste tank wasn’t clear at first, but it wasn’t dark.

It’s a small victory, but the small ones still make me smile.

Old Yeller


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I am going to tell you this right now, know that I am shooting straight (or at least straighter than a certain two cats) — it’s possible to teach an old dog new cat pee tricks.

This old dog is learning the hard way.


Dark picture. That’s a Fresh Wave container in the middle, bravely defending the room from the stink attack.

Finished with the painting of my recently purchased condo, mostly moved in, the place clean and tidy, the to do list whittled down to just a few things.  One of the things left on that to do list is to remedy the cat pee stains in the front corner of the master bedroom, where the previous owner kept the cat box.  One of the two cats was male and, being the typical male, he apparently missed the toilet now and then most of the time.  Let’s just say that it is very obvious where the litter box was placed in the room from the yellow outline in the carpet.  The stench was also obvious, not overwhelming, but not pleasant either.  Something had to be done.

Old Dog Lesson #1 — Do NOT use steaming hot water in the carpet cleaning machine when attempting to shampoo out cat urine in the carpet.

Remember that I said that the stench was obvious but not overwhelming.  After I shampooed the carpet last Saturday, the stench grabbed me by the collar and punched me in the face the next time that I walked through my front door.  To say that the scent is strong is an understatement.

Old Dog Lesson #2 — Expensive enzymatic solutions are not always the solution.

Not yet, at least.  I soaked the area with a popular enzymatic odor eliminator specifically formulated for cat urine.  I will dare to mention the brand as there are likely going to be people who read this blog who will recommend it.  Now the manufacturer will likely read it also.  The concoction I used is Nature’s Miracle.  So far, with the carpet nearly dry, there has been no miracle.  The stench might actually be worse.  I am not going to blame the cleaner.  Perhaps the fact that the area has been recently treated with shampoo caused the NM to be ineffective.  I have heard good things about NM, so I am not going to knock the stuff.  Unfortunately, the stuff ain’t helping.

If the odor isn’t gone once the cleaner has dried, I am going to try white vinegar.  If that doesn’t work, I am going to try baking soda with hydrogen peroxide and dishwashing liquid.  If that doesn’t work, I am going to buy gas masks and hand them to every guest as they walk through my front door.

This old dog is not pissed off.  Nor am I going to give up.  This does indeed suck, however.


Heck Might Be Too Much


I belong to a unique fraternity, a band of brothers of sorts, all of whom worked for the same company for an extended period of time with a dramatic ending for each.  That trauma gives us a unique bond, one which finds us sharing fantasies of what sort of torture should be inflicted on the specific person who orchestrated our demise, an enemy we all agree is worthy of punishment.  Each brother has a different degree of lust for revenge, dreams that at times make me flinch at their harshness.  Revenge is not my cup of tea, not something I want to allow into my mind.  While I can’t claim to perfection, my disdain for the person of disgust clear to me, I can’t bring myself to hate a person enough to want them to be harmed.  Punishment for anyone is not my responsibility.  I don’t want anyone’s unmentionables to be chopped off and fed to them, as some of my friends have intimated.

That said, I guess there could be some things I might wish on my enemies.  If I were to put together a list, the top five things I might wish on my enemies might just look like this —

  1.  Chronic hemorrhoids for eternity.  I’m thinking that spending every day scootching along the carpet with the family dog might be sufficient punishment, especially if said enemy ends up in hell.  That adds a twist to the phrase “itching and burning”.
  2. Bette Midler singing “Wind Beneath My Wings” and stuck in their head 24/7 for one month.  I’m thinking one day of this torture might cause the inflicted to jump off of a tall bridge.  Fllllllyyyyyyy… flllllyyyyyyYYYY….
  3. Bad health insurance.  I’m pretty sure someone cursed me with this one years ago.
  4. Cub fans for a lifetime.  Sadly, this one exists and some people choose this curse.  As a Cardinal fan who has known baseball heaven on earth my whole life, this punishment would indeed be hell on earth.  The only worse punishment might be the curse of being a White Sox fan for life.  Let me just say this — professional baseball should be banned from the city of Chicago (wait.. it has been for some time).
  5. Put them in a minivan with three elementary age children who have just consumed three supersized frozen cokes each, make them drive a 1500 mile turnpike without exits and 100 miles between rest areas.  Bonus if the rest area toilets require $2.00 in quarters for entry.  Extra bonus if there are plenty of rivers and waterfalls to view along the way.  Heck, for added grins the van’s stereo should have Wind Beneath My Wings stuck in a loop and the off button broken.  Those hemorrhoids should burn even more as the butt cheeks clench.

I would love to hear further suggestions.  My mind is already beginning to churn out more ideas, an evil chuckle passing my lips.

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[i] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Matthew 5:43-45, NIV)

Jesus was right.  But, but, but JESUS, come on… just a few little thoughts?  You have to admit, the minivan thing is pretty good, Lord!


Stupid Is As Stupid Does


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I hate it when my actions exceed the threshold of stupidity.

Shut up… it’s not a daily, hourly, or every minute of my life occurrence.

One of the necessities of riding a bicycle, especially when riding off road, is being prepared for a flat tire.  There are some who avoid that unpleasant experience with tubeless tires, but I am not a tubeless guy (I like my tube) so I still need to carry a spare tube, patch kit, and CO2 inflator with me when I ride.  When riding my mountain bike, I have all I need stashed in plastic bags, tucked inside my hydration pack.. right next to the baggie of folded toilet paper.

Sunday morning, I decided to venture to the trails for a BCD (butt crack of dawn) ride.  It was going to be a sweltering, humid day, thus necessitating an early ride while it was still relatively cool.  As I unloaded my bike at the trailhead, the birds chirped merrily around me, greeting me in my revelry.  This was going to be a great ride, I just knew it.  True to expectations, my body felt fantastic as I zipped up the first trail, strong and good-for-me fast.  My warm up always takes me from the front of the park to the back, roughly a mile to a water crossing that leads to a nice, challenging loop of trails.  I got to the water crossing FAST.

The water crossing was a little deep.  Hikers have been damming it up, probably so they don’t get their dainty little feet damp as they cross.  Mountain bikers, who build and maintain the trails in the park, have been removing the dams.  Back and forth, build and tear down.  It has been a dam war.  When I came to the top of the drop into the water crossing, I noticed that the hikers had built yet another little dam.  Confident that the water wasn’t too deep, I swooped down the trail and into the water, my elbow wet as the water splashed around my bicycle.

*Fssssssshhhhhht fssssssshhhhhttttttt fsssssshhhhtttt*

Oh ssssssshhhhhtttttt.  A front flat.  The hikers must have been fighting back, booby trapped the crossing.  No worries, it was a front tire flat and I had my kit with me.  I removed the wheel, whipped the tube out of the tire, took out the spare tube, replaced it, inflated the tire with CO2.


Crud.  I thought I had inspected the tire for the cause of the puncture.  I was out of luck since I only had one CO2 cartridge and one spare tube.  I replaced the wheel, carried my bike the mile or so back to my car.  Shucks.  The birds all pooped on me as I got back to my car, blew raspberries as they flew away.

Sunday afternoon, at home, I decided to fix the flat tire.  As I pulled the punctured tube out of the tire, a thought struck me.

Is it possible that I had put the same tube, the punctured tube, back in the tire that morning?

Intrigued, I pulled the tube I had put back in my hydration pack.  It looked new and unused.

I now have a large hand print on my forehead.





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I tried not to hesitate, but that’s the point.

Last Friday, I ventured a few hours south to Brown County State Park, Indiana.  My goal for the past few summers has been to soothe my soul with sweet single track trails, a goal I haven’t really been able to attain yet.. but I am getting there.  Life keeps getting in the way, not always a bad thing.  So I decided that I was going to make a solo trek, a semi spontaneous trip with little planning except to load my bike on the back of my car, with a change of clothes and nutrition for the ride.

It feels a bit unnatural to be doing things on my own right now, even though that has been the case for some time now.  Now I have that separated, living in divorce limbo cloud hanging constantly over me, so that gives me that disjointed feel.  It doesn’t help when people look at me like a broken toy when they find out that status.  I hate it.  I hate the waiting, the real desire to move on with my life.  That even includes wanting a companion, something that really isn’t right for me to do until I am a divorced, recovered from said divorce, man.

All of the above necessitates keeping active, not sitting around and letting depression take over.  Thus the bike trip.  As much as I like to ride Brown County, I almost had to force myself out the door.

The previous Wednesday pretty much forced me out the door.  In one afternoon, I found out that my company may not be able to pay me at the end of the month, I need a root canal, I owe an additional $6813 federal tax from 2016, and my homeowners association is requiring me to buy a $855 window for my condo.  All of that hit in about a two hour time period.  I looked at what I have socked away from the sale of the house, carefully planned in preparation of the coming divorce storm, and realized that there likely will be nothing left of that money come the end of August.

I will make it, I know.  I keep telling myself that God will provide.  The storm may be heavy for a while, but I won’t sink.

Geez… what a depressing blog!  The ride was great.  Just what the doctor ordered, even though it kicked my butt.  The time alone was therapeutic.  The quiet and change of scenery, heck the scenery alone was calming.  At one point in the ride, a mountain bike skills instructor told her three students to watch me as I cleared a large log obstacle on the trail, clapping for me as I passed by them, beaming with pride.

July 13th is a status hearing.  Ummmm… I wonder how much the lawyer is going to charge for that…… lol

Poo-ten Place


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One of the essential items that made the move from the house to the new condo was something that any man would be lost without.  Worried that someone else would grab it, I snatched it up and made sure it was stashed in a safe place for the move.

Fake poo.20170604_163239

And here it sits.  Now I can pretend that I have a pet dog.

It goes with the décor.

OK, that might not be accurate at all.  My place doesn’t even smell like poo.  It smelled like primer and paint for a while, but even those scents are gone.  Even the nicotine stench is mostly gone, a bit remaining in the walk in closet, the only room in the condo that did not get fresh coating.  Right now, my bachelor pad smells like cupcakes, the vanilla cupcake candle providing the illusion that I have been baking.

The décor in the place is starting to round out slowly, thanks to the generous gift of a red framed Farmall tractor puzzle that my father lovingly assembled for me (he made the frame, too), as well as the pictures that my precious daughter framed for me.  She also gave me a nifty old bicycle thingy.

Yesterday, I brought the dining room table and chairs up from my garage.  I put the legs on the table this afternoon, set the chairs around it.  There are floor to ceiling mirrors on one wall of the dining room, so it’s good that there is furniture in that room now.  Up to today, “friends” were suggesting that I put strobe lights and a stripper pole in the dining room.  After all, it’s every single guy’s dream, right?

Adjusting to sleeping in the master bedroom has been a bit of a trick.   Last weekend, I moved from the second bedroom, the room I moved into first, to the master.  The master is large, with two large windows that face the courtyard entrance to my condo unit, facing east.  When I go to bed, the courtyard light becomes my night light.  Used to total darkness when I sleep (no snide comments, please), that required some adjustment to get the blinds set just right.  I still sleep great.  In the morning, my room is lit by morning light as soon as the sun begins to peak the horizon, thus serving as a very early morning wake up call.  I am one whose body clock rarely allows me to stay awake late and which also will not allow me to go back to sleep once I am awake in the morning.  Right now, due to the the invasion of friendly sun, I am awake at 5:30 AM.

Getting there.  Slowly, I am getting things unpacked and in place.  The all important fake poo is out and ready to greet visitors.. so I guess I am set!


Today was a proud day.

My son graduated from high school — my first reason to be proud.

My son met my parents, Miriam (his mother), and his aunt and uncle for lunch.  Not only was he engaged, he was thankful for the generous gifts from my parents.  He spent time and didn’t rush away — another reason to be proud.

Honestly, the events of the day could have gone a different direction.  After all, Nate could have reacted to the separation of his parents, expressed his bitterness.  This was his day, his graduation day, and his parents sat apart from each other.  We got together after the ceremony, planned lunch together.  But Nate showed up, posed for pictures with us, enjoyed himself.  My parents were pleasantly surprised, even impressed, as was I.

I’ll take it.  These days I don’t get to see him often.  There is a high possibility that is why he showed up, sat and talked with me, seemed to enjoy the time together.  And, after all, it was his day.

Yesterday, I finished the majority of the painting in my condominium.  There is a little work left, but the majority is done.  May 6th, when the condo became my own, there was a lot of work to do, mainly due to the chain smoking habits of the person that I bought the condo from.  My dad came up to help me move in at the end of March, commented on the smoke stench then.  It’s gone, but it took a lot of work to make that happen.  On top of that, this place looks real nice and my parents were impressed.  The colors that I chose are subtle and warm, and once I moved my bed into the master bedroom, it was real obvious that the colors were the right choice.  Yes, I am proud.

I will take days like today.  Proud is good!

Three’s Company



Apparently, my only toilet option after 10 PM from now on will be to pee off of my balcony.  Either that or pee/poo in a bucket.  Dishes in the sink?  Save them for the morning.  Out of clean underwear?  Commando if I don’t remember to stick them in the clothes washer before 9.  While you’re at it, Stevie, make sure the water softener isn’t set to cycle in the middle of the night.

Thanks to a downstairs neighbor intent on complaining about each and every noise or crime that goes on above her head, I have been sufficiently welcomed to my new neighborhood.  23 years of living in a house, situated in a very laid back neighborhood with neighbors who could care less about what I did, had me used to the benefits of living with some space in between.  I forget what it’s like to live in very close proximity to other people, how some people who live in apartments or condominiums itch to exercise their right to gripe.  It took my downstairs neighbor less than a week to report me to the homeowner’s association.

Pray tell, Steve, what horrific acts are you guilty of committing?  My first paragraph alludes to most of her whining — I wash dishes and clothes after 8, sometimes 9 o’clock at night.  Essentially, she doesn’t like the sound of running water.  While she was at it, she threw in a jab at my grill dripping grease on her patio (an impossibility, by the way).

Wait, the grill grease complaint was made during her SECOND attempt to incriminate me via the homeowner’s association.  The first complaints about the water use were made within the first few days after I moved in.

I earned a little bit of the second complaint, by the way, not because I was dripping grease but because I got tired of the woman yelling every night (no exaggeration necessary) from her patio every night, usually around 9 PM or so, usually directed at my temporary roomie (gone now), mostly unintelligible since the rant was screamed in a very thick Polish accent —


I knew about the first complaints after speaking with the property manager shortly after closing on my condo, who I called to find out how to pay association dues.  Pam, the manager, informed me that my adorable neighbor had already complained twice about me.  She also told me not to worry — my cranky cohabitant has complained about every occupant of my condo.  Pam apologized, laughed a little about it with me, said welcome to condo life (heh heh heh heh).

With that in mind, on a Thursday night, after listening to my neighbor moan every night that week, I decided it was time for it to stop.  It was 8:30 PM, I washed a few dishes, and she began her nightly rant.  Instead of merely listening to her until she lost breath and stopped, this time I stepped out on the deck to ask her to stop.

Not the best thing to do, although one would think that the best resolution would be to talk about it, hash things out and reach a compromise.

She spit words that sounded like ‘fix’, ‘police’, and I think maybe ‘pierogi’ was thrown in there.  There was no negotiation.  I couldn’t get a word in edgewise.  Finely, I yelled back at her, told her that she has no gripe when she is complaining about normal life activity.  If she wanted to complain more, then she should keep complaining to the homeowner’s association and not to me, since I knew she had already complained.  She stomped back under the deck to her patio.

I received a call from Pam the next day.

OK, tell me what happened last night.

I gave her the quick story.  There was a sigh on the other end of the conversation.  Another apology.  I told her that from now on I would not engage the tenacious tenant, would simply ignore her.

Where are you from?  I love your voice.  Central Illinois?  I have heard that twang before.

Uh oh.  Pam is a divorcee.  The conversation attempted to get much friendlier.  Attempted, I must emphasize.

Condo life is still not bad, even with an overly sensitive whiner underfoot.  It is just going to take some adjustment, including my learning how to be kind and try to watch when I use water at night, etc….

Had I not talked to Pam yesterday, kindness would be more on my mind.  I had to call Pam because I still have not received the payment book or instructions on how to pay my monthly assessment.  In the course of the conversation, Pam leaked that my favorite friendly neighbor had attended the homeowner’s association meeting last Wednesday night, complained that my water softener was cycling in the middle of the night.

Ummm.. that’s what it’s supposed to do.  And it’s been doing that since it’s installation in 2009, I reckon.  Pam agreed.  But she also said that the homeowner’s association board has instructed me to not use the water in my unit after 10 PM.

I know they can’t do that.  Pam, the association rules don’t specify a time.  Legally, they can’t.  I had already used to trusty internet to confirm that information.  There is a lot out there about this blog’s topic.  She agreed.  Just be careful, she advised.

Then she asked me what my neighbor was installing under my deck.  An ILLEGAL awning, perhaps?  I would neither confirm or deny.

Until Mister Furley appears at my front door….



Argh.. the all too familiar grit of my teeth grinding in frustration.  The afternoon had concluded with joy stealing challenge, a tax related bump and an email from a numbskull salesman (who almost always rubs me wrong) threatened to fill my psyche with bitter poison.  Thankfully, my mountain bike waited for me along with my car in the parking lot, a short drive to the trails on a picture perfect evening promising to eliminate my woes.  All the way there, the events of the afternoon worked on me.  I parked my car at the trailhead, aware of the frown decorating my face.

Hey guys, turn your heads for a minute.  I don’t want to expose myself while I change into my shorts.

The kids who had parked next to me laughed and promised not to be offended.  Quickly, I stepped out of my shorts and slipped on the padded undershorts, pulled the ‘stylish’ mountain bike shorts over them.

I could already feel the angst beginning to melt away.

Adding to the ambience, the familiar rust color of my friend Jeremy’s Honda Element rolled past as I unlocked my bike and pulled it off of my hitch rack.  Even better, Jeremy parked nearby and his wonderful wife, Monica, emerged from the vehicle and headed in my direction, a warm smile for me as she pulled me in for a hug.  Jeremy is great, even better when Monica is with him.  She treats me like I am someone special, always treats me that way, treats her husband even more so, something that has endeared them both to me.  In a season of my life where I don’t seem to see enough relationships like that, I soak up the happy spirit I get from the both of them together whenever they are around.

I joined Jeremy for a fast ride, shortened when we went back to the parking lot after four miles to lube my chain, only to be waylaid by Monica and their friend, Carrie, with the temptation of beer.  Beer won over riding, the evening weather so perfect that anything was OK.

And it was just what I needed.  It was obvious to me as I drove home.  I had gone from teeth gritting to singing loudly to whatever song was on the radio.

I saw Miriam in the grocery store when I stopped to pick up some chicken to cook for dinner.  It didn’t matter.  Nothing was going to return me to the funk.

Bikes.  Friends.  Just what the doctor ordered.

What’s For Dinner?


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Ever had that disjointed feeling, a gnawing nag where something just isn’t quite in place, a constant reminder to be patient because all will be back to normal soon?

I should have kept that question a little more simple and shorter.  Screw it.  It covers more bases the way it is written.

How about that feeling that someone is always watching you?  It’s real if you have ever had pets and/or children.

I have a hawk.20170415_172104

Pretty freaking cool, eh?  Good thing that I don’t have pets or small children right now.  That hawk is big enough to carry off a small terrier.  Since I moved into my condo at the end of March, I have seen the hawk several times in the big trees in front of my deck, even witnessed it swoop by before soaring to its perch close by.  But this time mister hawk decided to pay me a personal visit, close up.  I was sitting outside on the deck, already one of my favorite places, and suddenly I was face to face with this daunting beauty.  He sat on the railing in front of me for a good two minutes, curious as I talked to him.  I am certain that he totally expected me to understand what he was saying to me.

Listen, buddy, welcome to the neighborhood.  Understand a few things and we will get along.

There likely are a few hawk rules that I will need to abide by.

Once I get settled in, I will read the little rule book that he dropped off.

As of Friday, I am once again a homeowner.  That’s right, I successfully negotiated the mortgage maze.  There really wasn’t much to negotiate since the only debt I have is a car payment.  Plus, my portion of the equity from the sale of the house was waiting to finance the new mortgage.  Even with that, I spent the past few weeks in a temporary limbo,  sure yet unsure that I would be living in my condo.  When my house sold, I moved into the second bedroom of the condo while waiting for my mortgage to be approved, as well as waiting for my temporary roommate’s mortgage to be approved.

I should say that I am squeezed into the second bedroom.  I had to be creative in order to make two beds, two dressers, a large screen TV, a head board, fit into one bedroom.  One might say that I am the prince and the pea right now, my mattress stacked on top of a bed frame, box spring, and the mattress from the other bed.  Thankfully, my other box spring is a split, two piece design, so it is stacked easily in a corner of the room.

Up to now the place hasn’t quite felt like my home.  It felt temporary, like it wasn’t real.  My roomie has been diligently packing her things, boxes all over the place, my things slowly replacing her the items that she packs away.

And then I got writer’s cramp.  That happens when you sign all the closing documents.

I bought a gas grill yesterday, assembled it in it’s stainless steel glory out on MY deck.  All of a sudden, I feel the solid sureness return.  I am home, my peaceful place.  Mine.